WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — High school teams from nearly 160 countries are in the nation’s capital for the first “Global Robotics Challenge.”
They include an all-girl team from Afghanistan that struggled to even get permission to enter the country.
As CBS News’ Weijia Jiang reports, the group of students from the Middle East showed off their ball-sorting creation in Washington, D.C. in what’s known as the Olympics of robotics.
“We are like sisters who work together and it’s important to be here and compete with the others,” team member Robada Noori said.
But the team almost didn’t make it.
They travelled 500 miles to the embassy in Kabul to get their visas twice and were denied both times.
Last week, President Trump stepped in and authorized the visas the girls needed to travel to the states.
Dozens of supporters showered the team with flowers and hugs when they arrived Friday night.
One team member said they were very happy and surprised when they learned President Trump intervened.
Now, the girls are competing against teams from around the world.
Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib says for their country, just being at the competition is symbolic.
“Despite war and a lot of other challenges we go through, seeing them and seeing the talent they represent gives us the hope that Afghanistan can become a stable and prosperous country,” Mohib said.
The United States was supposed to send the girls a box of materials, but terrorism concerns prevented the delivery — so the team built a robot with supplies they scrapped together.
The competition goes through Tuesday in Washington. It wasn’t just Team Afghanistan celebrating permission to participate. Team Gambia also had their visas approved last week after being denied the first time.